Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

baked eggplant parmigiana

Baked eggplant parmigiana is a much lighter take on the classic breaded and fried version. Don’t get me wrong, I love eggplant and have breaded and fried my own fair share of eggplant over the years many, many times.

Normally it would be a three step process, flour, egg, bread crumbs  or more often I would make it like my mother-in-law did, she whipped up a batter of flour, eggs, water to thin it, lots of romano cheese and parsley, oh it’s so good!

Then I would dip the eggplant slices into the batter and start frying, always adding more oil because eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge and there never seemed to be enough.

Most times I would have to start over and clean the pan out in between frying because the crumbs left in the pan would start to burn, so it was a long and messy process and the clean up on my stove would take a while, to say the least!

baked eggplant

Years later I’ve really come to love the baked version better, it’s lighter, healthier but even more than that I think the flavor of the eggplant really shines through. My version isn’t buried in sauce or cheese either, to me less is more, with the added bonus of a clean stove!

baked eggplant

You need a hot oven to prep your eggplant slices, and by cutting them to almost an inch thick this ensures a crispy bottom with a nice tender bite of eggplant meat in between, because they do shrink down.

baked eggplant

I also like to take my veggie peeler and and peel off strips of skin to create a zebra like pattern of skin and no-skin, I think it looks nice and gives structure to the dish, and when cooked it melts in your mouth anyway.

Years ago I would salt them down and place something heavy on top to take the bitterness out, I don’t do that anymore I think the varieties today are perfectly fine and not bitter.

baked eggplant parmigiana

Quality ingredients are always a must, fresh mozzarella,(not the dry shredded kind), good pecorino, fresh basil and homemade marinara, simple and light flavored with garlic and basil.

baked eggplant parmigiana

This takes no time at all to make, you can even roast the eggplant ahead of time and assemble it the next day, it’s easy enough to make mid week and delicious for a special dinner party.

I’ve even made it on a rimmed sheet pan for a large group, you can fit quite a few pieces of eggplant on a half size sheet pan, perfect for a party!

baked eggplant parmigiana

I promise you won’t sacrifice any flavor on this lightened up, baked version of the classic eggplant parmigiana, it’s just as delicious and you’ll feel good about eating it!

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Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
 
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Ingredients
  • 3 medium sized eggplants peeled in a zebra effect with some skin on and some skin off, sliced ¾ inch thick
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, padded dry
  • pecorino romano
  • 3-4 cups of homemade marinara flavored with garlic and basil or a good quality store bought brand
  • fresh torn basil
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. PREPPING THE EGGPLANT
  2. Heat oven to 425F.
  3. Drizzle the bottom of a sheet pan with olive oil.
  4. Place sliced eggplant on top and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  5. When you see a light golden bottom, flip them over and let the other side get golden as well, if you need a little more drizzle of olive oil, go ahead, time will vary according to oven heat, just watch it.
  6. When finished set aside. If prepping for a party or a larger amount, let it cool down and refrigerate to assemble the next day.
  7. ASSEMBLING
  8. In a 13x9 casserole quick drizzle bottom with olive oil, then spread marinara all over the bottom covering the surface.
  9. Add slices of eggplant to cover, spoon about a tablespoon of sauce on each slice, rip off some fresh mozzarella and add pieces to each slice then sprinkle with romano cheese and torn basil.
  10. Repeat.
  11. Bake in the hot oven until cheese melts down and it's all heated through.
  12. Top with more fresh basil, a sprinkle of cheese and a quick drizzle of olive oil.

 

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Eggplant Stacks

This is a quick meal you can put together providing you have some roasted eggplant slices tucked away in your fridge like I usually do, but if not it still won’t take you too long to get this meal together. Great for mid week or just a lazy weekend, serve with a salad and some crusty bread and you’re good to go.

I say quick because it’s basically just all about the layering of ingredients together. How could you ever tire of buttery eggplant, fresh oozing mozzarella, creamy pesto and a light and flavorful homemade sauce? I know I can’t!

I’m still able to find really good eggplant and I hope you can too so you could make this ASAP!


Here’s what you do:
Prepare the eggplant
by cutting the tip and ends off, then stand it up and with your knife peel the skin off in a zebra fashion, striping it as you go around, leaving some skin on and taking some off. Then slice your eggplant into 3/4 inch rounds. Toss with olive oil and bake in a 450F oven until golden and tender.

Ingredients:
Fresh mozzarella
Roasted eggplant slices
Basil pesto
Marinara sauce, homemade ( it takes no time at all to make your own!)
Basil leaves
Toasted breadcrumbs and grated romano or parmesan for garnish
1. Spread sauce in a baking dish, add one eggplant slice, spread sauce on top of it along with a piece of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, 2. Add another eggplant slice on top and spread with pesto, 3. Add final eggplant slice, more sauce and another piece of fresh mozzarella. 4.Top with more sauce, toasted breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Repeat for as many stacks you’ll be making. 5.Bake uncovered at 375F until heated through and cheese is melted.
Have a nice weekend and Buon Appetito!
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